So nice to be wishing a female painter birthday wishes. Lila’s work is fantastic, so life like and natural. Her mastery of light and shadow and carefree brushstrokes evokes some of the greatest artists of her era.
Lilla Cabot was born January 13, 1848 in Boston, Massachusetts. Her father was Dr. Samuel Cabot III, a distinguished surgeon. Her mother was Hannah Lowell Jackson Cabot. She had seven siblings: three being, Samuel Cabot IV (b. 1850), chemist and founder of Valspar’s Cabot Stains, Dr. Arthur Tracy Cabot (b. 1852), a progressive surgeon, and Godfrey Lowell Cabot (b. 1861), founder of Cabot Corporation.
Perry studied literature, language, poetry, and music. There are a few references to Perry having informal sketching sessions with her friends however she had no formal training in the arts before 1884. As a child she additionally enjoyed reading books and playing sports outdoors. Because of her family’s prominence in Boston society, Perry had access from an early age to such literary greats as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and James Russell Lowell. Perry recalled having the opportunity to play the game “fox and geese” with both Emerson and Alcott. Perry was thirteen years old when the Civil War began. Her parents were ardent abolitionists and took an active role in the war effort by providing care to wounded soldiers and helping to protect runaway slaves. At seventeen, when the Civil War ended, Perry moved with her family to a farm in Canton, Massachusetts where much of her early interests in landscapes and nature was shaped.
In 1874, she married Thomas Sergeant Perry, a Harvard alumnus scholar and linguist, and added his name. Between 1889 and 1909 Perry spent nine summers in Giverny. It was here that she fully found herself as an artist. During her time in Giverny she formed a close friendship with Claude Monet whose impressionistic handling of color and light greatly inspired her work. In addition, she also worked with a cadre of American artists who had found their way to Giverny including Theodore Robinson, John Breck, and Theodore Butler.
From her organization of the first American exhibition of Impressionist landscapes by John Breck to her unique visions of late nineteenth and early twentieth century femininity, Lilla Cabot Perry’s legacy is dynamic. During her lifetime she lived in three continents and was exposed to dozens of artists and stylistic modes. Her blending of eastern and western aesthetics and her sensitive visions of the feminine and natural worlds offered significant stylistic contributions to both the American and French Impressionist schools.